Business tests students: Part Deux.

From Alberta Education:

Computer Adaptive Assessment

Computer Adaptive Assessment (CAA) is a made-in-Alberta approach to address the individual learning needs of our students through an innovative use of technology. It is a school-based computer assessment tool that immediately ‘adapts’ or tailors the difficulty of each test to the individual student. The CAA initiative provides an optional assessment tool for classroom teachers to assist them in understanding each student’s progress.

In spring 2005 Alberta Education tendered a Request for Proposal for an online CAA system. CAA can support instructional planning, along with other tools such as teacher-developed assessments, commercial assessment/diagnostic tools, and other tests.

Castle Rock Research Corp, an educational resource development company based in Edmonton, Alberta was selected as the prime vendor.

For more information on Computer Adaptive Assessment, please contact Dennis Belyk, Executive Director, Learner Assessment at (780) 427-0010.

Well I logged in to the CastleRock site. I learned a few things.

  • The Castlerock site is not “individual based,” all students write the same test questions. The student’s name will appear above a list of randomly generated questions. The questions are not selected for the individual, they are chosen by a random mathematical/computational script.
  • Castlerock is a store . . . that sells tests. Old tests.
  • The technology is not innovative, schools have had the exact same questions and answer style exam questions since the initiation of the PAT program in the early 90s. My files have many example questions of similar, if not identical style and validity. If I am called upon to create tests similar to those offered by CastleRock I certainly have the expertise. I have questions in my database that Google will never find. The last MC test I gave was marked recorded and returned to the students before the end of the period in which the exam was written. I can be compelled to create these tests at a cost far less than $.35 per test.
  • In its present form the questions are not “adaptive” as advertised. The school will be billed to take tests for up to three years, until the database gets big enough, then the computer spits out the tough questions for the “righties” and the easy questions for the “wrongies”. I’m no math genius, but won’t giving tougher tests to the “righties” and easy tests to the “wrongies” make everyone “average”? I search for gurus to point out what is innovative in this “adaptive” approach. I’ve read Harrison Bergeron, I didn’t like it.
  • The Castle rock site promises “unique” sets of questions, they are recycled test bank questions from the late 90s. Random, maybe, not unique, that’s special.
  • The CAA, CastleRock store is not “teacher-developed”, it is not “school-based”.

“All men are not created equal. It is the purpose of the Government to make them so.”

I will not participate in this “optional” program. I simply can’t find enough professional research to convince me otherwise.

I have some good ideas about education technology innovation that could use a few bucks to keep rolling, though, care to donate?

Oh, when I was a first year teacher, a mentor took me out to the local golf course. I rarely golf and borrowed his son’s clubs. He wagered me a “pop” and even allowed “one kick and a throw.” I took the bet. On the third hole he kicked my ball from the fairway over a barbed-wire fence into a field. On the eighth hole he threw my ball in the water.

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